Newest Review: ... limit the amount of money I recieve these days. When I first started taking South West Trains, they ran fairly on time until recently w... more
The great train robbery
South West Trains
Member Name: shikiraclare
South West Trains
Advantages: top speeds of 120mph, many rewards for SouthWest train staff
Disadvantages: Slow connection links causes delays, paying for more than you get
I used to work for South West Trains through a company called Evolution recruitment in 2005 and at the time, there was a business merger happening between another rival rail commercial enterprise so as to expand the entire SouthWest trains rail netwok.
The political tensions were always very high, even amongst station staff, so for me, I just wanted to be on the other side of it all and become a mere passenger, not a cleaning operative scrubbing Graffiti from the inside of the ill-scented shunter coaches, seven nights a week at a rate of £7 per hour from 10pm till 6am. I don't know how I managed it for a year, but the recruitment agency depended upon employees like me who were never sick and worked religiously hard to get the trains miraculously clean before the drivers were ready to take them on their early morning runs often in a tired or grumpy mood, though some were more chirpy happy than a lottery winner, you often wondered what they had in their coffee after getting gout of bed!
Even though I worked on the trains, I also travelled on them and still do each week to get to and from college. SouthWest trains really do look after their staff and even employees who aren't directly employed by them but by some recruitment agencies that just want a diligent, uncomplaining workforce. I was given a train pass when I first started to get to and from my job location, so felt acknowledged as part of the Network Rail Industry even though I was extraneous to their own manpower services. They even paid for my track safety awareness course based in Eastleigh, so had a great day out when the training finished early.
To receive similar privileges to that of their own staff was the one memory I will always associate and have high regard for SouthWest trains and because you see the other side of rail life when you are not only just a busy commuter enamoured by the speed at which the silent Blue Desiros can travel at something like120mph on a 750 voltage cable. This is a rough guess, but used to know all the electric powered current values concerning rail lines ect, I've actually forgotten most of them until now, so this review is bringing back some great mathematical knowledge - essential if you ever work on a railway as there are even coach numbers that have to paired up correctly before they can depart the station.
Clearly the trains would not have operated at all if there were no cleaners, so I did my job with a great deal of passion in the beginning until I found myself the target of unwelcome bullying from two older ladies who felt threatened by my good rapport with my all male colleagues, it wasn't an easy ride being the only female when I first began and had to toughen against some of the workplace banter, many women would have run a mile by men making references to breasts and politically incorrect speech!. I took it all, tried to expose what was happening but soon realised that the railway is perhaps a place that has it's own culture, you must have a very thick skin to fit in.
It's very difficult when I have to travel into Guildford now from Woking, but it is such a short 10 minute journey that I don't stop to look out of the window to see if I can see old colleagues I'd rather not be reminded of those awful times.
However, what SouthWest trains provide for their commuters is comfort and mostly if you are travelling second class. However, although I enjoy the privacy of the first class coaches, they are nowhere near as spacious as the second class coaches, you can actually stretch your legs with more ease, you can't do so in the elite compartments, the seats are far more compact against the tables, you have to sit pretty upright with legs firmly pressed together, which isn't great if you are going on a long excursion. All the first class coaches are identifiable by their blue themed fabric with white detachable bibs draped over the top of the seats, are often empty whenever I board the train.
The toilet facilities are pretty dire and simply because they malfunction from time to time, so the automatic locking system can pack up whilst you are doing your business! - This has happened to so many people, I've been witness to these embarrassing scenes time over and astonished by the fact that there isn't even an emergency door lock in case you get caught out, only a panick button which isn't going to rescue you from shame, but great for people with disabilities or those just about to have a coronary heart attack and can't reach the open dial, that when you press into the center, is slow to react anyway.
The Desiros are the fastest and most presentable of trains and are often called silent widows because of their mute locamotion as an electrically operated transport system, plenty of children playing on rail lines are unaware of just how dangerous these killer bullets are as they are nothing like the old shunter ones that are at least 25 years old and have a top speed of 60mph. It wasn't safe to play on tracks even when I was a child, but your chances of survial were much greater than now, so shows you just how mechanically advanced these British coach manufactured ones really are and why they are expensive to travel in them.
You can tell the difference between the two as the Desiros are blue and red and look as sophisticated as they really are, the shunters are the blue red and white, faded from years of service with slam doors throughout the coaches, they are an unpleasant feature of these trains that these rail vehicles should be completely demolished as are an eye sore, even the seats are detatchedable from their plastic bases, I've often discovered loose change and mobile phones when I cleaned them, but fairly handed them in unlike some of the staff I worked with.
Overall, this rail network that has been running ever since before the sinking of the Titanic in 1914, is such a revolutionary transport scheme because it has contuined to redevelop it's services within the past decade, there is a complex heirachy of management that could have hindered progress but instead has provided commuters with the very best they can and, even though this might not be reflected in the train fayres or corrupt toilets, most definitely in their treatment of their staff.
There will always be delays with trains because they have to wait for the
tracks to change to connect to the direction it's heading. This is a timely process that doesn't match the excellence of the superior trains themselves and why it is commuters get so frustrated as they can't understand why trains and rail lines don't share the same equality when they ought to. This is such a great example of how it is that old and new technology coexist as a hazard rather than a marvel.
Commuters don't get the treatment they deserve or value for money even if the staff can enjoy the fruits of their labour when network rail create so much revenue, they could stop charging passengers for tickets if the trains run more than half an hour late or re-design their first class accommodation so that it is more user-friendly and even install proper toilets where the doors don't take on a life of their own.
Summary: Bring back steam locomotives!
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